Saturday 27 November 2021

The 61 FC (Luton) - Kingsway Recreation Ground

The 61FC (Luton)
Kingsway Recreation Ground
Beverley Road

Ground Number: 1026
Saturday 27th November 2021
The 61FC (Luton) 0-3 MK College Academy
Spartan South Midlands D2


The club was established in 1961, hence the name. They started out in the Luton, District & South Beds League and remained there until 1972 when they spent a season in the Hellenic Division 2. Following that, they joined the South Midlands Division 1 which they won in 1981. Promoted to the Premier Division, they achieved their best finish in 1982 when they finished as runners-up to Hitchin-based side Pirton. The team were effectively relegated to the second-tier Senior Division in 1993 and this was a time of real struggle for the club with them finishing bottom of the league in 1997. Following this, the league merged with the Spartan League to become the present-day Spartan South Midlands League. The 61 played one season in the Senior Division before relegation to Division 1 in 1998. The team finished 3rd here behind  Pitstone & Ivinghoe and Flamstead in 2001, earning promotion but staying in the renamed Division 1 which was formerly the Senior Division. A few mid-table finishes followed before in 2004, the club was demoted due to their lack of floodlights. They've been in Division 2 ever since and were champions in 2009 but ground grading denied them promotion. The team have struggled since 2015 and are currently third-bottom of the league.


Between 1982 and 1993, the club competed in the FA Vase. They reached the 2nd Round in 1983 & 1988. Cup honours include the Bedfordshire Senior Cup in 1984. Their record attendance of 265 came for the 1988 South Midlands League Cup Final against Selby. The team are based in Luton, once famous for its hat-making and Vauxhall car factory which has a population of around 213,000. Other football teams from Luton include Luton Town from the Championship and Crawley Green who play at the Football League side's training ground. Luton is once of the most ethnically diverse places in the UK and former teams to play in the town include Brache Sparta, a team inspired by Czech immigrants who played at the Foxdell Recreation Ground, now home to five-a-side pitches for local youngsters. Nowadays, the town is more well known for being the filming location of 24 Hours In Police Custody and the home of career criminal Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson. Famous people from Luton include Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack, prisoner Charles Bronson, footballer Kerry Dixon, cricketer Monty Panesar, One Foot In The Grave writer David Renwick and singer Paul Young.


I'd wanted to visit 61FC for some time, seeing though as it had a stand and a rail around the pitch. The need to do so was amplified when I decided that I was going to complete the Spartan South Midlands Division 2, the first step 7 league that I was going to finish. Having no floodlights, opportunities were limited to Saturdays and I passed up a couple of opportunities before settling on this date. Around a week or so before the game, I saw that there wasn't much I fancied on the train, so I decided to drive for once on a Saturday. 61 had a game against MK College Academy and looking at the weather forecast for the day, the freezing temperatures were another good reason to drive, so I could divert elsewhere if needed. I offered to take Anwar but sadly he was ill. Plenty of the little kids at his school had got Covid and he was feeling under the weather. Living in a house with old and vulnerable parents, I was glad of his responsible stance, though again it raised the question of why the government show so little respect and care for the kids that are the future of our country.

The last few Fridays have been spent groundhopping in Wales, and a mighty fine time had been had. However, with the temperatures being forecasted as being freezing, I passed up on the chance of going to either Tredegar Town or Goytre. Instead, I stayed in on a Friday for the first time since September 3rd and had a few drinks. The day of the game came and after a fairly early night, I was awake before 5. I watched TV before going back to sleep for a bit and getting up at 7.30. Steak and eggs were my weekend breakfast treat and after having them, I walked to town and back. The weather was not at its most pleasant and I got a bit wet on the way back, meaning I had to change when I got home. I relaxed at home for an hour whilst checking for any game news. Plenty of games had fallen victim to the snow, rain and wind that Storm Arwen had foisted upon us but it didn't seem too bad down here. I had some lunch and left at 12.50. The journey across was not the best, generally clear but still with more delays than I would have liked. After Google Maps directed me to the wrong entrance, I worked out the correct one a few minutes drive away and got there at 1.55. There was no one on the pitch which was slightly concerning, but understandably, everyone was staying in the warm for as long as possible.

The 61 FC had been in mixed form recently. In their latest game, they had lost 3-0 at Eynesbury United. They'd also lost 3-1 at Pitstone & Ivinghoe and 2-1 against Berkhamsted Raiders as well as a 6-1 loss at Shefford Town & Campton in the Gladwish Trophy. Positive results had come as they won 2-1 at Codicote and 1-0 against Sarratt. They sat 14th in the table with MK College Academy in 7th. The visitors had been in decent form in recent times, beating Old Bradwell United 3-2 in their latest game. They had also beaten Pitstone & Ivinghoe 3-2 and won 3-0 at Berhkhamsted Comrades and 2-1 at Sarratt. However, they had lost 2-1 at Bovingdon and 5-1 at Aston Clinton. The game kicked off slightly late, but 61 started well although they didn't create many chances. The visitors gradually took control and they took the lead on 16 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the are. They made it 2-0 a couple of minutes from the break, taking advantage of hesitant defending to score from ten yards. A minute later, it was as good as game over, the MK #7 hit the post with a curling shot and the rebound was put home. The second half kicked off at 3:07 and it saw the game more even. The 61FC #7 was sin-binned for something he said to the referee as frustrations boiled over. On 80 minutes, the hosts were awarded a penalty and a chance to reduce the arrears but the effort was well saved by MK keeper Tyler McGregor. The hosts rallied but were unable to get on the scoresheet. With it being so cold, I was glad when the final whistle sounded so that I could get back in the warm.

There had been around 11 in attendance on what was a bitterly cold afternoon. The ground was high up and very exposed which meant that a chilling wind could really swirl around. It was a late finish, around 3.55 with the light quickly fading. I jogged back to my car just in time to hear the halftime report of Wycombe's game up at Sheffield Wednesday. We had gone ahead but had been pegged back just as I was heading back to the car. The first half had been interrupted by a medical emergency and so finished really late. I made my way home, the only delay being a five-minute wait at a junction near the ground. I tried to tune into the Wycombe game but had to make do with the Luton commentary until I got back near Chalfont. I'd already learned that Sheffield Wednesday had taken the lead and listened through crackly and fading reception as Jordan Obita equalised through a free-kick. I was home at 4.50 with family having come round. They had the game on, thanks to a VPN and I was able to watch the last ten minutes with a nice bottle of Ross Butt Blend Perry. Wycombe gained a good point and following the game, Boris Johnson hosted a press conference. He announced that face masks would be returning in shops and on public transport. For me, they never should have stopped. Vaccines will never be 100% effective, especially for those with compromised immune systems such as people with cancer. Far better to stem the flow on boring, essential stuff than to invade leisure activities. It still wasn't good enough for some pathetic overgrown children who threw a hissy fit about being forced to wear a piece of fabric for a short time. I will certainly feel safer at work if it's imposed, in places like the pub and football I feel far safer as people are more respectful there.


THE KINGSWAY RECREATION GROUND is a good venue for the level. though it is very high up and exposed, so can get chilly on a windy day. There's just one stand, a covered area in one corner of the ground with a few steps of terracing. This could easily hold 50. Alongside this, is a very nice clubhouse with lots of old team photos. This also sells a small selection of drinks. The rest of the ground is open standing. There's a decent amount of parking, though the streets around the ground are very built up and congested, so it's just as well. There's a decent range of takeaways with a number of interesting options thanks to the ethnically diverse population. It also appears to be near a number of bus routes. Overall, it's a ground well worth a visit and one of the better step 7 venues out there.

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